Tag Archives: gary hume

still, looking

Sunday 30 November 2014

i was looking at some pictures at the metropolitan museum of art’s website one morning and found this image of a japanese screen. i was much intrigued by the implication of a conceptual element [whether or not it was intended – it was probably an ‘exercise’ or presentation of skill and craftsmanship], pictures and scenes within a larger pictured scene.


screens within screens, edo period, japan 1615-1868 [metropolitan museum of art]

and on another virtual museum visit, this painting:


georgia o’keeffe, white canadian barn II, 1932, oil-on-canvas [metropolitan museum of art]

o’keeffe painted this after ‘escaping’ to canada.

both of the images above appear refreshingly ‘contemporary’ [and visually similar, much serendipity], finding connections in different contexts, about facades and barriers, what is visible and what is [un]known.

more barns: walker evans took a lot of pictures of barns… this polaroid photograph exudes the aesthetic much admired on instagram.


walker-evans, shrub in front of barn facade, 1973-74, instant colour print [polaroid]

this photograph reminds me of the desire to appreciate the ‘poetry’ in the everyday. it was ‘interesting to look at’ for a moment…


it’s a boarded-up window of a shop which may also have been a shop sign. oh, how those tiny fragments of paint cling so precariously to the surface! they will not see this winter out.


howard hodgkin, old books, 2006, oil on wood, 55.6 x 71.8 cm

i have been thinking about a particular painting, ‘old books’ by howard hodgkin, which i had first seen in an exhibition at the fitzwilliam museum a few years back – i have a postcard of it – then perusing the beautifully designed book of howard hodgkin’s paintings that i had bought at the same exhibition. looking at the postcard led me to find this painting online on a dark november afternoon:


howard hodgkin, hello again, 2006-08, oil on wood, 20 x 23.8 cm

a precious instance of painterly purity. is it hodgkin saying ‘hello again’ to painting after an hiatus, or suggestive of the memory of a private conversation or encounter? maybe it doesn’t matter, it seems both playful and coy, of thoughts and feelings that need to be ambiguous or subtly expressed. it’s also quite revealing that unlike most of his paintings, the wooden frame is left unpainted – exposed – which is what first drew me to it.


gary hume, red barn door, 2008, oil on two aluminium panels [tate collection]

this large painting by gary hume is not on display at tate modern. i like this painting. it feels ‘sublime’ in the sense that it is unfathomable and overpowering, enigmatic [maybe even hypnotic], seductive and beautiful, cool perfection in the painted strokes, the symmetry, the flatness, the intense redness. shallow deep stuff…


maki haku, work 73-50-a (nothing) 1973, woodblock print and blind embossing [british museum]

this is one of a pair of prints, exploring the universal balance of yin and yang, and referring to a state of nothingness, or emptiness, the often misunderstood ‘void’, which i understand to be about the existence of things as in-between, independent or fluid. in a nutshell [maybe?], letting go of the idea that things are always ‘fixed’.

what does this all mean? maybe it is just another distraction? [i am now looking at the untidy pile of books i’m currently reading]. the fire has been lit for the second day in a row, it is now glowing, it gently crackles, it is almost too warm and cosy… i think the old neighbour was right; when you split the logs yourself you get twice the heat.

here are some recent random quotes harvested from twitterland – idly observing the interesting flotsam and jetsam of others’ thinking as they float by; it’s very zen…

Living away from great art centers is a handicap for those who want to cultivate their taste. Clement Greenberg

Nothing beautiful asks for attention Drunk Poetry Experiment

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication Leonardo da Vinci

The more you see human nature in its unvarnished state, the more politeness becomes interesting. Alain de Botton

Now, let’s get crazy. In your world you decide where the waterfall lives. Shooom! Bob Ross

snap, cackle and pop

Sunday 29 May 2011

the YBAs have: ‘grown up, headed for the fields and found fresh inspiration in the countryside of suffolk’

i’ve just been reading all about it over at the guardian/observer newspaper… it conjures up images of them drinking pints of adnams with the locals & taking long country walks in their hunter wellies and barbours… the guardian refers to the YBAs as if it is a definitive artist movement and now they’re moving in on suffolk…

they are putting on a group show called ‘snap’, a new contemporary art exhibition as part of the aldeburgh festival. the festival runs 10-26 june 2011, and will be set up in various locations around snape maltings (home of the aldeburgh music festival), using ‘foyers, derelict buildings and outdoors, offering the chance to see art outside a conventional gallery’ (a nice change from the white cube). it will feature the work of twelve artists: darren almond, don brown, cerith wyn evans, mark fuller, russell haswell, gary hume, johnnie shand kydd, abigail lane, simon liddiment, sarah lucas, julian simmons, juergen teller.

Sarah Lucas, Julian Simmons & Abigail Lane YBA artists. Photograph: ©Andy Hall for the Observer

[Sarah Lucas, Julian Simmons & Abigail Lane. ©Andy Hall/Observer]

only some of these artists could be considered true YBAs (are they perhaps honorary YBAs?), but they have all made links one way or another with east anglia and have come together to make ‘snap‘ happen. the ‘snap‘ exhibition will include photography, site-specific sculpture, video and sound installations. what, no painting, then – but gary hume is involved..? to remove any element of elitism there will be an ‘open day’ instead of a traditional ‘private view’ (does that mean everyone is invited?), serving suffolk aspall cider instead of champagne (they usually have champagne..?). as one of the artists abigail lane explains: “I want the farmers to come in and complain, but actually get a bit drunk with someone who’s come up from London. That’s how it should be.

i think the jolly farmers of suffolk might be busy that day but i’m all for supping some local ‘cyder’ while contemplating contemporary art… will any farmers walk in with mud on their boots and complain about the art? they are more likely to gruff & shrug it off as ‘a load of ol’ squit‘ – but i jest – there is a serious problem with crops and not enough rain right now… and i really wish that the art world/media would not play off the metropolitan with the rural, it seems like a case of us & them, as if we are somehow culturally deprived or lacking and unable to see the nuances of the country without the benefit of their urban vision… (ok, rant over…)

however, i’ll still be intrigued to see how these artists will work with and interpret the suffolk landscape… and snap is a very snappy, apt little title for this exhibition – a small snapshot, a breaking away, loud, sharp and to the point, snapped together, synchronous – but i also wondered if it might be a reference to an erroneous mispelling (or mispronounciation) of the village of snape.

to coincide with the promotion of snap, there is not one but two mentions of the artist sarah lucas (and a few of her artist pals in the process) in the papers this weekend… in the saturday guardian interview she says of her beginnings in art that: “I met somebody there who’d been to art college. I didn’t know about art college before that. That’s when I thought, ‘Oh, that’s something I could do.

i was quite disappointed by that statement, that it was just something to do, she had expressed no creative urge before that moment, there were no childhood stories of pulling the heads of cindy dolls and making crazy, hybrid toys or just making weird-shaped stuff out of potato smash or dirt – no, nothing of that sort was mentioned – but that’s not to say she hasn’t done those sorts of things – because this is what her art seems to do now – playing absurd and sometimes subversive games, as she goes on to say: “when I was little, just making things, because I always did, to keep myself company. I think that sort of continues – the making things to keep yourself company.” so there could be a darker, confessional side to the ‘art’ of sarah lucas just as there is with tracey emin – and perhaps this is why they became the best of friends in the YBA playing ground…

Sarah Lucas in her Suffolk studio. Photograph: ©Eamonn McCabe

[Sarah Lucas in her studio in Suffolk. ©Eamonn McCabe/Guardian]

i wish lucas had ‘fessed up a little bit more about her struggle in ‘making art’ and say it was also a case of being in the right place at the right time, talking to & hanging out with the right crowd of people – but it is good to see that she can now create ironic and refined work, such as the bronze sculpture ‘perceval’ with the two supersize marrows, situated in the grounds of snape (i cast a cucumber in alluminium in 1986, which seems slightly ironic in retrospect…). here’s a quck snap i took of perceval in snape a while back. i saw something similar (but much smaller) in a local charity shop for £20 – i wonder if sarah lucas bought it?

sarah lucas - perceval - shire horse - sculpture - snape maltings

[Perceval by Sarah Lucas – photographed looking east]

according to the guardian, the artists who are included in the snap exhibition are ‘a tight-knit bunch and they started talking about pulling together a group show […] and it was mooted that they could crash the Aldeburgh festival‘… it sounds just like the good old days…

sarah lucas now lives & works in suffolk and her friend, the painter gary hume, apparently also has a studio here in rural suffolk (i wonder if he needs a studio assistant – someone who can paint smooth and ‘dead flat’?) – and just down the leafy lane (so to speak) lives the london gallery owner sadie coles, who represents sarah lucas… the ‘snap’ exhibition sounds mildly exciting and rather marvellous, as if suffolk will be an über-cool locus of contemporary art, if only for a few weeks in the summer.

winter might paint a different picture – sugar beet lorries hog the road, the stench of slurry wafts from the brown fields, and as the slow tractors rumble on a whole lotta mud is laid down in their wake… but there are the expansive skies and the light, and the trees look mysterious shrouded in a morning mist – and then there is the coast… it’s impossible to miss this particular beach find, but rare to find it not crawling with people, such is its tactile charm…

maggi hambling - scallop sculpture - aldeburgh beach

[Scallop by Maggi Hambling – photographed looking out to the sea]

there are, of course, already a lot of artists living & working in suffolk ; i moved from london to rural suffolk in 1993…

i grew up, i headed for the fields and found fresh inspiration in the countryside of suffolk.

i am still trying to get my philosophical head around that career move – so i look forward to seeing what the YBAs(?) will make of the place…

The Saturday Interview: Sarah Lucas | The Guardian

Sarah Lucas: A Country Life | Art and design | The Observer.

The exhibition ‘Snap’ runs from 10-26 June 2011, at Snape in association with the Aldeburgh Music Festival

There will also be Snap: a discussion with Michael Craig-Martin on Thursday 23 June 2011

An edition of twelve large-format prints by the artists is also available at http://www.paulstolper.com

mist opportunities [again]

Thursday 27 May 2010

a straight photograph; morning mist, winter…

with some digital blurs applied…

then with a dark vignette…

The original photograph had, by nature’s own means, some readymade atmosphere… I could, I suppose, use some mechanical filters to achieve a similar effect, as I am not a fan of post-processing in digital photography – in the deceit of any number of wow and pop effects – aka ‘photoshopped’…

It seems to me that when using digital technology the artist should have a rough idea of the visual outcome they want to achieve and then experiment with the tools to realise the vision or intention.

David Hockney quite likes using computers… as does Julian Opie… so computers can be good tools for artists…

This painting, by the British artist Gary Hume, displays the digital effects of Photoshop’s pointillize filter, but this was ‘painted‘ in 1998… he must have been one of the first to use Photoshop software as a ‘creative’ tool…

Gary Hume, Bird point III, 1998 – gloss paint on aluminium

Here’s a little Photoshopped  ‘Humeresque‘ I made earlier, (in the ‘Blue Peter’ tradition, of course)…

Created from this original photograph…

Like many successful international artists, Gary Hume has a painter’s assistant… he ‘can’t bear doing the really fiddly bits’ apparently. The painter and the assistant must be a strange relationship to maintain, when the fabrication of the work has to embody the style and technical skill(?) of one artist… I wonder if the ‘artist‘ in such a situation ever feels that the assistant is the more accomplished craftsman (if not the artist), or if the assistant sees the role as a type of apprenticeship, providing the necessary first steps to their own success…

Software such as Photoshop can provide new creative tools (or assistance) in making art. As mentioned, Hockney excels in exploiting the finer nuances of the capabilities of the software; looking at Hockney’s new digital drawings one doesn’t immediately want to recall the brand of software used. Another artist, Paul John Taylor, who came to my attention via Jerwood Painters 2009 (exhibition reviewed here), seems to be using digital filters to design his paintings (referencing media photographs) – they apppear to look as though a selected photograph has been post-processed with filters (as with Gary Hume’s painting above) and then are mechanically painted (or reproduced) onto canvas.

Paul John Taylor Bombed Beirut, second from right

I had a little go with some digital filters and visual effects. Below is a news image I found on Reuters that I have digitally manipulated showing similar image manipulation methods.

[click to view larger]

I am fascinated by the desire or concept to translate digitally manipulated images back into handcrafted paintings – the painting becomes a reproduction (or facsimile) of its digital counterpart – validated as art by the very materiality of paint as opposed to pixels. They could print them straight onto canvas or panel, but then they wouldn’t be original paintings.

Whereas Opie and Hockney use the tools of technology in very individual ways (in both artist’s work mechanical drawing or mark-making is a part of the process) with very distinct visual outcomes, Taylor and Hume seem to have merely appropriated the built-in filters and effects of the software. The British artist Maggi Hambling (whose recent seascape paintings display the energy of both the artist and the subject matter) once said that ‘photography is inevitably a dead thing’, so perhaps digital manipulation just continues the flogging…